Stage Mom – Theater Memories – Part 1

theater-masksK was in the pre-show for our local high school’s production of Fiddler on the  Roof last week.  It was an awesome show and the kids did a great job.  As I was arriving in the parking lot, I remembered all the experiences I’ve had with theater at this school.

It started when the school was a different building, but it sat in the same spot and instead of my kids it was me on the stage.  The show was amateurish, to say the least, and it wasn’t well respected or well attended.  Things have changed since then and now the show, a musical, is always very professional and always sold out. Rehearsals begin months in advance instead of weeks in advance and the cast is being prepped at a much younger age. That is why Broadway Juniors was developed so that kids in elementary school get a taste of the stage to increase their desire to participate when they get older.

My oldest daughter was very involved and was the gifted lead in more than one production.  She made an awesome Cinderella, a fun Frenchie in Grease and much more.  Her involvement in theater stretched me in many ways and gave me memories I will always cherish.

I will never forget her first audition.  It was more cut throat than I had expected for the little ones and as the director was trying to prepare a line up for the children in The Sound of Music, she would just point and say, “You stay, you go, you stay, you go.”  The audition at that point was looking at only height and trying to create a believable sibling group.  Too small children began to cry and too tall children’s mothers were getting angry and sending their child back onstage barefoot to make the cut.  It was very nerve-racking and I gathered my daughter up and tried to exit as quickly as we could so the experience could remain positive.  I thought we had made it as I buckled her in the car and backed out of the parking spot…..directly into the car behind me.  The evening ended with me in tears after all.

She was not chosen for that production of The Sound of Music, but she was able to play Brigitta in a bigger production for a neighboring town’s community theater.  I’ll never forget the night her bracket for the braces on her teeth came undone and was jabbing the inside of her cheek.  The stage crew took pliers and pulled the wire out while a cast of Nuns in costume stood over her praying.  It was an awesome opening night!

Not everyone gets to go wedding dress shopping with their 16 year old who isn’t getting married, but that’s exactly what I got to do when she portrayed Cinderella.  We got to choose a glittery poofy ball gown and also a gorgeous wedding dress complete with veil and train.  This was a real blessing for me to get to dress her like that because her taste in clothes will prevent me from dressing her as a princess ever again! The wedding gown was gorgeous and a perfect fit. The only alteration that was needed was to create a way to bustle the train for dancing.  The costume chairperson suggested I sew a loop around a dowel rod so that the loop could hang on a button.  I didn’t have a dowel rod, so my husband and I gathered the full skirt and stitched around a pink permanent marker.  As we sewed and sewed we didn’t realize that the cap had come off and we were making scribble marks in pink permanent ink on the back of the dress.  Panic!  Screams! Google Searches of how to get permanent marker out of a dress resulted in quarts of acetone dumped on the dress on opening night.  The dress was then hung in the rafters on stage so that it could float down out of the sky at the perfect time.  Prior to the start of the show, the fire alarms in the school sounded and they said that someone saw smoke on the stage….I was terrified that the acetone had caught the dress on fire in the heat of the stage lighting!  I was wrong, it was only a false alarm and by the way, the faint pink stain on the dress was not visible to the audience.  Whew, what a relief!

My daughter’s wise music teacher sent us on an audition one time and she said that the Mom should remain silent throughout.  She had been the director for many previous shows and said that directors often look for children with strong voices and mothers without one.  I got what she meant and I have always tried to go unnoticed as I support my kids. However, I did NOT remain unnoticed at one show.  Moms were in charge of the children backstage and got them lined up to enter stage left.  After the kids were on stage, we moms quietly opened the auditorium doors and stood at the back for the opening number to see our kids perform hoping to not catch the eye of the director in the sound booth as we snuck in. We had made it in and were standing as we waited for the show to begin when the auditorium house lights went up.  People were squinting in the bright lights of the previously darkened auditorium. What had happened?  It appears that I ( Yes, ME!) had leaned against the light switch and turned them on!!!  All eyes were on me as I turned the lights off and quietly snuck out of the auditorium. Let the show begin! (FYI the light switch is now covered by a clear plastic box that prevents this from happening again!)


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